Sayings ... in the hermitary style

Contribute a saying by emailing it to hermitary.com. No personal sayings, please; complete source information preferred. Include your first name if you wish to have it attributed. Submitting a saying does not guarantee that it will appear here, which depends on how the saying resonates within the walls of the hermitary.


[This feature was launched in 2003.]

Those of peaceful mind, discerning,
Mindful, given to Meditation,
Clearly see things rightly
And long not for sensual pleasures.
Those peaceful ones, delighting in diligence,
Who see fear in negligence,
Are incapable of falling away
And are close to Nibbana.
--Itivuttaka: 45

submitted by Timo

Deserts, silence, solitudes are not necessarily places but states of mind and heart. These deserts can be found in the midst of the city, and in the every day of our lives. We need only to look for them and realize our tremendous need for them. They will be small solitudes, little deserts, tiny pools of silence, but the experience they will bring, if we are disposed to enter them, may be as exultant and as holy as the one God Himself entered. For it is God who makes solitude, deserts, and silences holy.
--Catherine Doherty, Poustinia

Khalil Gibran:
Solitude is a silent storm that breaks down all our dead branches. Yet it sends our living roots deeper into the living heart of the living earth.
A hermit is one who renounces the world of fragments that he may enjoy the world wholly and without interruption. (from Sand and Foam)
Did people understand the language of silence, then they were nearer to the gods than the wild beasts of the forest. (from "The Cry of the Graves" in Spirits Rebellious)

Two Chinese sayings:
Even the heartfelt hermit yearns, but I invite the wind for company. --Liu Tsung-yuan (from "Reply to Chia Peng")
If I ever left here, where would I go -- to the realm of people all trouble and peril? --Po Chui-i (from "My Thatch Hut")

Three Sufi sayings:
The Sufi is one in whom nothing is attached, and who does not become attached to anything. --Nuri Mojudi (Ahmed Ibn Abu al-Hassan al-Nuri), 9th cent.
So long as we do not die to ourselves, and so long as are identified with someone or something, we shall never be free. --Attar, 12th-13th cent.
O Heart! When you can see for an instant from within this prison of deception the difference between This and That, detach from the Well of Tyranny. Stand outside! --Rumi, 13th cent.

We have been very strenuously conditioned against solitude. To be alone is considered to be a grievous and dangerous condition. ... I suggest that people who like to be alone, who walk alone, will perhaps be serious workers in the art field. ... To live fully and effectively, the idea of achievement must be given up.
--Agnes Martin, Writings (2004)

It is only in the gesture of tranquilly prolonging this life and striving to comprehend the mystery of this moment in time that freedom of existence is achieved, for in solitarily scrutinizing the self the perceptions of the self by others loses all relevance.
--Gao Xingjian, One Man's Bible, 54

Solitude is truly an interior affair, and to realize this insight and to live accordingly amounts to the best and most helpful form of progress.
--Rainer Maria Rilke, Correspondence, March 1907)

Solitude, though it may be silent as light, is, like light, the mightiest of agencies; for solitude is essential to man. All men come into this world alone; all leave it alone.
--Thomas De Quincy, Autobiographical Sketches

Solitude is impracticable, and society fatal. We must keep our head in the one and our hands in the other. The conditions are met, if we keep our independence, yet do not lose our sympathy.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, Solitude and Society, 1857

To live as a hermit is to be untrammeled by things of the world; it is like drawing a length of bamboo out from a dense thicket.
--Kyobutsu, Japanese hijiri, quoted from Plain Talk on the Pure Land

Who not with others bides / And always lives alone, / If he's not God himself, / Must into God have grown.
--Angelus Silesius, Solitude Divine, II, 202

A certain hermit once said, "There is one thing that even I, without worldly entanglements, would be sorry to give up: the beauty of the sky." I can see why he would have felt that way.
--Yoshida Kenko, Essays in Idleness, 20

And in this we must for the most part entertain ourselves with ourselves, and so privately that no exotic knowledge or communication be admitted there; there to laugh and to talk, as if without wife, children, goods, train, or attendance, to the end that when it shall so fall out that we must lose any or all of these, it may be no new thing to be without them. We have a mind pliable in itself; that will be company; that has wherewithal to attack and to defend, to receive and to give: let us not then fear in this solitude to languish under an uncomfortable vacuity.
--Michel de Montaigne, "On Solitude"

submitted by Jonathan

All the spaces of our past moments of solitude, the spaces in which we have suffered from solitude, enjoyed, desired, and compromised solitude, remain indelible within us.
--Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Let us do as the prophet says: "I will take heed of my ways, that I offend not with my tongue. I have set a guard to my mouth. I was dumb and was humbled, and kept silence even from good words." Here the prophet teaches us that if we should at times, for the love of silence, refrain from good talk, we should with more reason still, for fear of sin's punishment, eschew all evil talk. On account of the great value of silence, therefore, let leave to speak be seldom granted to observant disciples, even though it be for good, holy, and edifying conversations; for it is written: "In much speaking you shall not escape sin" and elsewhere: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." It becomes the master to speak and to teach; but it befits the disciple to be silent and to listen. If anything be asked of the superior, therefore, let it be sought with all humility and respectful submission. But as for buffoonery and talk that is vain and stirs laughter, we condemn such things everywhere with a perpetual ban, and forbid the disciple to open his mouth for such conversation.
--Rule of St. Benedict, ch. 6, "On Silence"

A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free. ... Solitude will be welcomed or endured or avoided, according as a man’s personal value is large or small, -- the wretch feeling, when he is alone, the whole burden of his misery; the great intellect delighting in its greatness.
--Arthur Schopenhauer, Counsels and Maxims, ch. 2, 9

What is not meant to happen will not happen, however much you wish it. What is meant to happen will happen, no matter what you do to prevent it. This is certain. Therefor the best path is to remain silent.
--Ramana Maharshi

The Christian (as we have been describing) is at once the most attached and the most detached. Convinced in a way in which the "worldly" cannot be of the unfathomable importance and value concealed beneath the humblest worldly successes, the Christian is at the same time as convinced as the hermit of the worthlessness of any success which is envisaged only as a benefit to himself (or even a general one) without reference to God.
--Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Le Mileau Divin, 1.6

There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. Thay are what is mystical What we cannot speak about we must consign to silence.
--Lugwig Wittgenstain, Tractatus logico-philosophicus

In the writings of a hermit we always hear something of the echo of desolation, something of the whispers and the timid gazing around of isolation; from his strongest words, even from his screaming, still resounds a new and dangerous kind of silence, of concealment. Whoever has sat down, year in and year out, day and night, alone in an intimate dispute and conversation with his soul, whoever has become a cave bear or digger for treasure or guardian of treasure and dragon in his own cavern - it can be a labyrinth but also a gold mine - such a man's very ideas finally take on a distinct twilight colouring and smell as much of mould as they do of profundity, something incommunicable and reluctant, which blows cold wind over everyone passing by. The hermit does not believe that a philosopher - assuming that a philosopher has always first been a hermit - has ever expressed his real and final opinion in his books. Don't people write books expressly to hide what they have stored inside them? - In fact, he will have doubts whether a philosopher could generally have "real and final" opinions, whether in his case behind every cave there does not still lie, and must lie, an even deeper cavern - a more comprehensive, stranger, richer world beyond the surface, an abyss behind every reason, under every "foundation." Every philosophy is a foreground-philosophy - that is the judgment of a hermit: "There is something arbitrary about the fact that he remained here, looked back, looked around, that at this point he set his shovel aside and did not dig more deeply - there is also something suspicious about it." Every philosophy also hides a philosophy; every opinion is also a hiding place, every word is also a mask.
--Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Part 9, aphorism 289

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.
--Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, p. 115

submitted by Jesús

There are two distinct components to human nature: the social and the solitary. While most people are strictly social ... there are also quite a few loners, people who motivate themselves, derive their rewards directly from nature and whose only constraints are self-imposed. The solitary part of human nature is definitely the more highly evolved, and humanity has surged forward through the efforts of brilliant loners and eccentrics. Their names live on forever precisely because society was unable to extinguish their brilliance or thwart their initiatives through social inertia. On the other hand, our social instincts are atavistic and result far too reliably in mediocrity and conformism. We evolved to live in small groups of a few families, small enough to accommodate a few brilliant eccentrics, and our recent experiments that have gone beyond that limited scope seem to rely on herd instincts that may not even be specifically human. When facing imminent danger, large groups of humans have a tendency to panic and stampede, and on such occasions people regularly get trampled and crushed underfoot: a pinnacle of evolution indeed!
--Dmitry Orlov, The Five Stages of Collapse, p. 5

submitted by Lynne

Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life.
--Paulo Coelho, Manuscript Found in Accra, from Paulo Coelho Blog

Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of some day meeting yourself again.
--E. M. Cioran, Strangled Thoughts, 2

We seek retreats for ourselves, houses in the country, seashores, mountains. But ... we have in our power to retire into ourselves. For there is no retreat that is quieter and freer from trouble than our soul ... perfect tranquility, the right ordering of mind.
--Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.3

Solitude is a defense mechanism in a world that does not deserve to be saved.
--Robert Ferguson, Alone in America, p. 85

Disassociation ... is a defense mechanism that allows the individual to remove himself or herself from a commotional event either by numbing feelings or splitting off the intellectual from the feeling state.
--Ester Schaler Buchholz, The Call of Solitude, p. 266

My gardening in the course of the years has become nothing but a hermit’s pastime without any practical meaning -- that is to say, it has a meaning for me alone.
--Hermann Hesse, Notes at Easter

Solitary men. Some men are so accustomed to being alone with themselves that they do not compare themselves with others at all but spin out their life of monologue in a calm and cheerful mood, conversing and indeed laughing with themselves alone. If they are nonetheless constrained to compare themselves with others they are inclined to a brooding underestimation of themselves: so that they have to be compelled to acquire again a good and just opinion of themselves from others: and even from this acquired opinion they will tend continually to detract and trade away something. -- We must therefore allow certain men their solitude and not be so stupid, as we so often are, as to pity them for it.
--Friedrich Nietzsche, Man Alone With Himself, 625

Our unhappiness arises from one thing only, that we cannot be comfortably alone in our room. ... That is why the pleasure of solitude is seen as so incomprehensible.
--Blaise Pascal, Pensees, 9. Diversions

When a person has grown old and has done his all, it is his task peacefully to make friends with death. He does not need other people. He knows them and has seen enough of them. What he needs is peace. It is not seemly to seek out such a person, to talk to him, to torment him with your chatter. At the gateway to his home the proper thing is to pass by, as if nobody lived there.
--Hermann Hesse (notice on the door of his house upon award of the Nobel Prize for Literature)

To reside in a remote village on the side of a deep gorge hidden amid dense vegetation in a poor hut with a thatched roof on which grass sprouts up, whose door is overgrown by vines and which has small round windows, like the mouth of a jar and a mulberry staff for a hinge, a hut whose roof is blanketed by snow and frost so that the grass mats are soaked; to wander in a vast marsh and ramble on the side of mountain slopes ...
--Liu An, Huainanzi

Vocation to Solitude. To deliver oneself up, to hand oneself up, to hand oneself over, entrust oneself completely to the silence of a wide landsccape of woods and hills, or sea, or desert, to sit still while the sun comes up over the land and fills its silences with light. To pray and work in the morning and to labor in meditation in the evening when night falls upon that land and when the silence fills itself with darkness and with stars. This is a true and special vocation. There are few who are willing to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into their bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life into a living and vigilant silence.
--Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

There is no need for you to leave the house. Stay at your table and listen. Don't even listen, just wait. Don't even wait, be completely quiet and alone. The world will offer itself to you unmasked; it can't do otherwise; in raptures it will writhe before you.
--Franz Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks

Without going out the door, you can know the whole universe.
Without looking through the window, you can see the ways of heaven.
The farther you go, the less you know.
Thus the sage knows without traveling,
sees without looking,
acts without doing.
--Lao-tzu, Taoteching, 47

Living, there is not happiness in that. Living: carrying one's painful self through the world. But being, being is happiness. Being: becoming a fountain, a vessel of stone on which the universe falls like warm rain.
--Milan Kundera, Immortality

submitted by Jesús

When he turned up -- a rare occurrence -- he was well received, but no one knew what to say to him, for in his encounters with people he was as imperturably grave and indifferent as a hermit who would very shortly be going back to his woods.
--Hermann Hesse, The Marble Works

Our intelligence struggles to think its way out of the mirrored labyrinth, but the actual exit is to be found only by turning aside, now and then, from the churning of thought, dropping beneath the spell of inner speech to listen into the wordless silence. Only by frequenting that depth, again and again, can our ears begin to remember the many voices that inhabit that silence, the swooping songs and purring rhythms and antler-smooth movements that articulate themselves in the eloquent realm beyond the words. Only thus do we remember ourselves to the deeper field of intelligence, to the windblown thinking that is not ours, upon which all our thoughts depend.
--David Abram, Becoming Animal

submitted by Pierre

The "I" in me, my friend, dwells in the house of silence, and therein it shall remain for ever more, unperceived, unapproachable.
--Kahlil Gibran, The Madman

I feel that it is necessary and ordained that I should be alone, a stranger and an exile in relation to every human circle without exception.
--Simone Weil

I am a horse for a simple harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork.
--Albert Einstein, Forum and Century, Living Philosophers

A mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone.
--William Wordsworth re Isaac Newton, The Prelude, Book 3

Let me alone, sheltered in my cell.
Let me be with God, who alone is good.
Why should I move out of my cell?
Back to that which I left?
Let me be.
I want to cry and mourn over the days and nights I have wasted.
--Simeon the New Theologian

Now and again it is necessary to seclude yourself among deep mountains and hidden valleys to restore your link to the source of life.
--Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido

Spiritual joys come only from solitude,
So the wise choose the bottom of the well,
For the darkness down there beats
The darkness up here.
He who follows at the heels of the world
Never saves his head.
--Rumi, Solitude

submitted by Pierre

It seemed to him that he knew exactly what it felt like to sit in a room like this, in an armchair beside an open fire with your feet in the fender and a kettle on the hob, utterly alone, utterly secure with nobody watching you, no voice pursuing you, no sound except the singing of the kettle and the friendly ticking of the clock. ...
To do anything that suggested a taste for solitude, even to go for a walk by yourself, was always slightly dangerous. There was a word for it in Newspeak: ownlife, it was called, meaning individualism and eccentricity.
--George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four

A painter paints pictures on canvas, but musicians paint their pictures on silence.
--Leopold Stokowski, classical music conductor

Solitude is as much an intrinsic desire in man as his gregariousness. Hermits, solitary thinkers, independent spirits, recluses, although often stigmatized in the modern world, are healthy expressions of man's dialogue with himself.
--Clark E. Moustakas, Loneliness and Love

The rain surrounded the cabin ... with a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside. Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, the rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.
--Thomas Merton (quoted in David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous)

submitted by Pierre

My deepest inspiration came from the simple Mongol pilgrims who inspired me with the belief that learning and scholarhsip are by no means essential to the truly religious life or to gaining freedom from the Wheel. On the mountain dedicated to Divine Wisdom (Wu Tai Shan in Northern China), I learned that such Wisdom must be sought for in silence and not at all by discursive thought.
--John Blofeld, The Wheel of Life

Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self.
--Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

The best word is the unspoken word. I am a man of few words and a musician of few notes. Music is the written that cannot be expressed. I wish that my music should seem to come out of the shadows and return to the shadows again.
--Federico Mompou (20th century Catalan composer)

Silence is given in the sick declaration of the heart. When the fragrance of a flower is charged with reminiscences, we linger alone over breathing it in, questioning it, in the anguish of the secret which its sweetness will in an instant deliver up to us: this secret is only the inner presence, silent, unfathomable and naked, which an attention forever given to words (to objects) steals from us, and which it ultimately gives back if we give it to those most transparent among objects. But this attention does not fully give it up unless we know how to detach it, in the end, even from its discontinuous objects, which we can do by choosing for them a sort of resting place where they will finally disappear, the silence which is no longer anything.
--Georges Bataille, Inner Experience

submitted by Pierre

This stillness, solitude, wildness of nature is a kind of thoroughwort, or boneset, to my intellect. That is what I go out to seek. It is as if I always met in those places some grand, serene, immortal, infinitely encouraging, though invisible, companion, and walked with him.
--Henry David Thoreau, Journal, January 7, 1857

submitted by Maria

In many so-called primitive cultures it is a requirement of tribal initiation to spend a lengthy period alone in the forests or mountains, a period of coming to terms with the solitude and nonhumanity of nature so as to discover who, or what, one really is—a discovery hardly possible while the community is telling you what you are, or ought to be. He may discover, for instance, that loneliness is the masked fear of an unknown which is himself, and that the alien-looking aspect of nature is a projection upon the forests of his fear of stepping outside habitual and conditioned patterns of feeling. There is much evidence to show that for anyone who passes through the barrier of loneliness, the sense of individual isolation bursts, almost by dint of its own intensity, into the "all-feeling" of identity with the universe. One may pooh-pooh this as "nature mysticism" or "pantheism," but it should be obvious that a feeling of this kind corresponds better with a universe of mutually independent processes and relations than with a universe of distinct, blocklike entities.
--Alan Watts, Nature, Man and Woman

submitted by Pierre

Once more
Uncontradicting solitude
Supports me on its giant palm;
And like a sea-anemone
Or simple snail, there cautiously
Unfolds, emerges, what I am.
--Philip Larkin, Best Society

We live, as we dream, -- alone.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and vulgar things.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

submitted by Pierre

A busy solitude is, I think, the happiest life of all.
--Voltaire, Letter to Frederick II, King of Prussia, 1751

When we are quiet and alone, we fear that something will be whispered in our ears, and so we hate the quiet, and dull our senses in society.
--Friedrich Nietzsche, Schopenhauer as Educator

submitted by Pierre

A subject to which few intellectuals ever give a thought is the right to be a vagrant, the freedom to wander. Yet vagrancy is deliverance, and life on the open road is the essence of freedom. To have the courage to smash the chains with which modern life has weighted us (under the pretext that it was offering us more liberty), then to take up the symbolic stick and bundle, and get out! The healthy wayfarer sitting beside the road scanning the horizon open before him, is he not the absolute master of the earth, the waters, even the sky?… His estate has no limits, his empire no law. No work bends him toward the ground, for the bounty and beauty of the earth are already his.

To have a home, a family, a property or a public function, to have a definite means of livelihood and to be a useful cog in the social machine, all these things seem necessary, even indispensable, to the vast majority of men, including intellectuals, and including even those who think of themselves as wholly liberated. And yet such things are only a different form of the slavery that comes of contact with others.
--Isabelle Eberhardt, author of The Nomad

submitted by Jasmine

Being alone means you are established firmly in the here and the now and you become aware of what is happening in the present moment. You use your mindfulness to become aware of every feeling, every perception you have. You’re aware of what’s happening around you in the sangha, but you’re always with yourself, you don’t lose yourself. That’s the Buddha’s definition of the ideal practice of solitude: not to be caught in the past or carried away by the future, but always to be here, body and mind united, aware of what is happening in the present moment. That is real solitude.
--Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Matter

God is the silence of the universe and man is the cry that gives meaning to that silence.
--Jose Saramago (from his blog)

Before I was twenty, I never worried about what other people thought of me. But after I was twenty I worried endlessly about all the impressions I made and how people were evaluating me. Only sometime after turning fifty did I realize that they hardly ever thought about me at all.
--Anthony de Mello, One Minute Wisdom

The things that ignore us save us in the end. Their presence awakens silence in us; they refresh our courage with the purity of their detachment.
--Andrew Harvey, from A Journey in Ladakh

The thoughtful soul to solitude retires. ...
--Omar Khayyam, from Rubaiyat, IV

The most useful among the people is he who is distant from the people. ...
The strong grows in solitude where the weak withers away.
--Kahlil Gibran, from The Spiritual Sayings of Kahlil Gibran

What they undertook to do
They brought to pass;
All things hang like a drop of dew
Upon a blade of grass.
--W. B. Yeats, Gratitude to the Unknown Instructors

But vain the Sword and vain the Bow,
They never can work War's overthrow.
The Hermit's prayer and the Widow's tear
Alone can free the World from fear.
--William Blake, The Grey Monk

Who is not a companion to his spirit is an enemy to people. And he who sees not in his self a friend dies despairing. For life springs from within a man and comes not from without him.
--Kahlil Gibran, A Tear and a Smile

It is difficult to live among men because silence is so difficult.
--Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathrustra; 25 and 42

To fly from, need not be to hate, mankind.
-- Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage; 3, 69

submitted by Michael

The strongest man is he who stands alone in this world.
--Henrik Ibsen, The Enemy of the People

When your tongue is silent, you can rest in the silence of the forest. When your imagination is silent, the forest speaks to you, tells you of its unreality and of the Reality of God. But when your mind is silent, then the forest becomes magnificently real and blazes transparently with the Reality of God.
--Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas

submitted by Bill

In the life of each of us there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness; we are each the uncompanioned hermit and recluse of an hour or a day; we understand our fellows of the cell to whatever age of history they may belong.
--Sarah Orne Jewett,The Country of the Pointed Firs

submitted by Michele

Nothing is more negation than solitude and peace;
That is where, if at all, my soul shall find release.
--Angelus Silesius, 2. 248

Nothing in all creation is so like God as silence.
--Meister Eckhart, Sermons

submitted by Patricia

In silence which is active, the Inner Light begins to glow -- a tiny spark. For the flame to be kindled and to grow, subtle argument and clamour of our emotions must be stilled... Silence is the welcoming acceptance of the other.
--Pierre Lacout, Quaker Faith and Practice 2.12

submitted by Michele

The traits of the solitary bird are five: first, it seeks the highest place; second, it withstands no company; third, it holds its beak in the air; fourth, it has no definite color; fifth, it sings sweetly. These traits must be possessed by the contemplative soul. It must rise above passing things, paying no more heed to them than if they did not exist. It must likewise be so fond of silence and solitude that it does not tolerate the company of another creature. It must hold its beak in the air of the Holy Spirit, responding to his inspirations, that by so doing it may become worthy of his company. It must have no definite color, desiring to do nothing definite other than the will of God. It must sing sweetly in the contemplation and love of its Bridegroom.
--St. John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love

Only in silence does hearing begin. The ear is freed and no longer merely instrumental in communication in code. Relieved of its usual function, it begins to search and research.
--Philip Groening, producer of the film Into Great Silence

submitted by Michele

Now, my real wish is to remain in a remote place, like a wounded animal, and [using] all the energy, all the time, concentrate on spiritual practice. And use my brain in  a maximum way in spiritual field. Without much expectation. If too much expectation, then [on] last day, I may regret [dying]. So without too much expectation, but [I still want to live for] some years!
--Dalai Lama, Ten Questions for the Dalai Lama (live interview in English)

If we are to think positively of the One, there would be more truth in Silence.
--Plotinus, Enneads, 5.6

Non-action is the real action. One hundred acts are not as good as one moment of silence. One hundred exercises are not as good as one moment of standing still. ... Big action is not as good as small action. Small action is not as good as non-action.
--Wang Xiang Zhai, Chinese Xingyiquan master

God is the mirror of silence in which all creation is reflected.
--Paramahansa Yogananda

submitted by Michele

Once you experience the inner silence you never feel empty, because in the inner silence you can hear the stars speak, you can hear the voice of the water, you can hear the voice of the great Self.
--Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Resonate with Stillness

submitted by Linda

Great things are done when men and mountains met.
This is not done by jostling in the street.
--William Blake

You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait,
be quiet, still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked,
it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
--Franz Kafka, Senses

Hell is other people.
--Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

You, too, may have met your hermit, or perhaps something else equally marvelous. Maybe it was a rock, a tree, a star, or a beautiful sunset. The hermit is the Buddha inside of you.
--Thich Nhat Hanh, The Hermit and the Well

And speaking of solitude again, it becomes clear that solitude is always at bottom not something that one can take or leave. We are solitary. We may delude ourselves and act as though this were not so. That is all. But how much better it is to realize that we are so, yes, even to begin by assuming it.
--Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, 8

Solitude, silence, the admonishing presence of grand, fair, and permanent forms, and the gentle allurements of pure air, flowers, and clear streams -- these are valuable in themselves
-- Basil Willey, literary scholar

If you want to perceive and understand objectively, just don't allow yourself to be confused by people. Detach from whatever you find inside or outside yourself and only then will you attain liberation. When you are not entangled in things, you pass through freely to autonomy.
-- Zen Master Lin-chi

Solitude, though it may be silent as light, is like light the mightiest of agencies; for solitude is essential to man. All men come into this world alone; all leave it along.
-- Thomas De Quincey

I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man and a maid,
And the silence for which music alone finds the word,
And the silence of the woods before the winds of spring begin,
And the silence of the sick
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths
Of what use is language? ...
-- Edgar Lee Masters: [from his poem] Silence

To drift like a dead leaf fallen from the tree and taken up by the wind, knowing not if the wind carries you or if you are carrying the wind ...
-- Michel Jourdan (French hermit writer)

submitted by Michele

About three hundred years ago, an Indian chief said to the governor of Pennsylvania: "We love quiet; we suffer the mouse to play; when the woods are rustled by the wind, we fear not." Silence is part of the traditional way of living for the Native American. It is an easy way, for it gives the soft distance between spoken words, body signals, and action choices. To live with Indian people is to discover a beautiful enhancement of the spirit through silence. Unless they have succumbed to the rush and noise of the mainstream style of life in this country, Indians still reveal this gift of silence. . . .
-- Mary Jose Hobday (Catholic nun and Seneca elder)

submitted by Michele

How do I talk to a little flower? Through it I talk to the Infinite. And what is the Infinite? It is the silent, small force. It isn't the outer physical contact. No, it isn't that. The infinite is not confined in the visible world. It is not in the earthquake, the wind or the fire. It is that still small voice that calls up the fairies.
--George Washington Carver

submitted by Lhachö

The city does not take away, neither does the country give, solitude; solitude is within us.
-- Joseph Roux (18th century France)

Life is ample for those who keep themselves detached from involvement. None of their time is transferred to others. None is frittered away in this direction and that, none is committed to Fortune, none perishes of neglect, none is squandered in lavishness, none is idle.
--Seneca, On the Brevity of Life, 11

God's first language is Silence. Everything else is a translation.
--Thomas Keating

submitted by hermitess

A hermit, aware of such unworldly joy, finds truth from scenes of rock walls, sunset glow, mountain caves and clouds. ... A decent person needs to empty his heart for room for newly realized truth as well as to fill his heart at the same time, leaving no room for worldly desires.
--Choi Joon-ho, Korean art historian

Solitude and nature are absolutely necessary for the proper development of a human being. It is an admixture of natural life, lived in solitude, amid beautiful surroundings of nature and what we call an arboreal life, which is absolutely necessary for the poise and harmony of the human mind.
--Gopi Krishna

submitted by Steven

Every man who delights in uttering a multitude of words, even though he says admirable things, is empty within. If you love truth, be a lover of silence. In the beginning we have to force ourselves to be quiet. But then there is born something that draws us to it.
--Isaac of Ninevah

Silence is not native to my world; more than likely it is a stranger to your world, too. If you and I even have silence in our noisy hearts, we are going to have to grow to it. ... We will do so on silence's terms for growth -- terms which are not yet your own.
-- Wayne Oates, Nurturing Silence in a Noisy Heart

The present state of the world, the whole of life, is diseased. If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I would reply: "Create silence! Bring men to silence. The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today. Create silence."
--Soren Kierkegaard

Best of any song is bird song in the quiet, but first you must have the quiet.
--Wendell Berry

It is a good discipline to wonder in each new situation if people wouldn't be better served by our silence than by our words.
--Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

Far back past deep, dark, silent trees
where no city's seed has e're been sown,
in a forest by the crashing seas,
there lives the hermit all alone.
Wouldn't leave if, per chance, he could;
the slightest change would raise his ire.
Content to wander in the wood,
to dream alone beside the fire.
-- R. Logue

submitted by Robert

The Tao cannot be sought from others; it is attained in oneself. If you abandon yourself to seek from others, you are far from the Tao.
-- Huainan-tzi

Outwardly go with the flow, while inwardly keeping your true nature. Then your eyes and ears will not be dazzled, and your thoughts will not be confused, while the secret within you will expand greatly to roam in the realms of absolute parity.
-- Huainan-tzi

The sage who wanders alone is like the wind that is not caught in a net, like the lotus not soiled by water, leading others but not led by them.
-- Sutta-Nipata (Pali)

Forgetfulness of black-printed books comes of itself to one who realizes that all things are holy scriptures.
--Milarepa, Songs (44)

There are two great forces in the universe, silence and speech. Silence prepares, speech creates. Silence acts, speech gives the impulse to action. Silence compels, speech persuades. The immense and inscrutable processes of the world all perfect themselves within, in a deep and august silence, covered by a noisy and misleading surface of sound ...
-- Sri Aurobindo, Karmayogin

I know that I went from the brief before to the eternal afterward of everything, but I do not know how
--Antonio Porchia (1886-1968), Argentine poet

submitted by Timothy

It is necessary not to be "myself," still less to be "ourselves."
--Simone Weil, Decreation

I have never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.
--Henry David Thoreau, Walden

If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred. Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self. There is no place to hide and so we are found.
--Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

submitted by Michele

Solitude is sometimes the best society.
--John Milton, Paradise Lost

Society is the cave. The way out is solitude
--Simone Weil, The Great Beast

Every time you feel lost, alienated, or cut off from life, or from the world, every time you feel despair, anger, or instability, practice going home. Mindful breathing is the vehicle that you use to go back to your true home.
--Thich Nhat Hanh, Going Home

Never less idle than when wholly idle, nor less alone than when wholly alone.
--Cicero, De officius

This is the truth. If hermits regard contempt as praise, poverty as riches, hunger as a feast, they will never die.
--Macarius (from Sayings of the Desert Fathers)

submitted by l'ermita

Seeing that, for every hermit, sickness is an exhortation to virtue, without any ceremony whatsoever, I will follow my way, sickness or death.

submitted by l'ermita

I am fully qualified to work as a doorkeeper, for this reason: What is inside me, I don't let out; what is outside me, I don't let in. If someone comes in, he goes right out again. He has nothing to do with me at all. I am a Doorkeeper of the Heart, not a lump of wet clay.
--Rabia Basri (woman Sufi master)

He is a solitary figure, robed in simplicity and kindness. He sits upon the lap of Nature to draw his Inspiration, and stays up in the silence of the night, awaiting the descending of the spirit.
--Khalil Gibran, from The Poet

Not all who wander are lost.
--J. R. R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings: 1. Fellowship of the Ring

submitted by Derrick

I have started on a new journey which, I know, will take me further than before towards the perfect life I was instinctively seeking. I began this journey by exploring the unmapped territory of my own mind... This endeavour is as vast as life itself because it requires the analysis of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being...
--Ella Maillart, explorer-traveler-writer, Cruises and Caravans

submitted by Michele

Put forth diligent effort, seeking wisdom that comes of itself, taking solitary delight in goodness and wisdom ...
-- Lotus Sutra, 3

We live as we dream -- alone.
--Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

I am never lonely. A lonely person is one who is not aware of the complete fullness within. When you become dependent on something outside without having awareness of the reality within you, then you will indeed be lonely. The whole search for enlightenment is to seek within, to become aware that you are complete in yourself. You are perfect. You don't need any externals. No matter what happens in any situation, you need never be lonely.
-- Swami Rama, Living with the Himalayan Masters

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.
-- Mohandas Gandhi

It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after one's own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

When a grasshopper sits on a blade of grass, he has no thought of separation, resistance, or blame. Human children prefer dragonflies whose wings and bellies are as red as chili peppers. But the green grasshopper blends completely with the green grass, and children rarely notice it. It neither retreats nor beckons. It knows nothing of philosophy or ideals. It is simply grateful for its ordinary life.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh, Fragrant Palm Leaves

Genuine tranquility of the heart and perfect peace of mind, the highest blessings on earth after health, are to be found only in solitude and, as a permanent disposition, only in the deepest seclusion.
-- Arthur Schopenhauer, World As Will and Representation

The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation.
-- Kate Chopin, The Awakening

In solitude we are in the presence of mere matter: the sky, the stars, the moon, blossoming trees, things of less value, perhaps, than the human spirit. The value of solitude lies in the greater possibility of attention.
--Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self.
--Henri J. M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude

The moment you don't make anything, Buddha's "right effort" is achieved. Right effort is no effort. To get to the place of doing things effortlessly takes a hell of a lot of effort.
-- Jane Dobisz, The Wisdom of Solitude

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.... Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.
-- Jean Arp, Sacred Silence

Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius, the stern friend, the cold, obscure shelter where moult the wings which will bear it farther than suns and stars.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life

Everyone says Tushita Heaven is fine,
but how can it match this old hut of mine?
-- Stonehouse (Ching-hung), from his Mountain Poems

For the most part it [Walden Pond] is as solitary where I live as on the prairies. It is as much Asia or Africa as New England. I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself.
-- Henry David Thoreau, Walden, chapter 5: Solitude

God's discretion invites us to silence, a silence filled with wonder, a silence which adores and opens itself to God, who draws closer in mystery. Adoration envelopes itself in silence, joining itself to that which draws closer.
--Daniel Bourguet, La Pudeur de Dieu

submitted by Michele

One who knew how to appropriate the true value of this world would be the poorest man in it. The poor rich man! All he has is what he has bought. What I see is mine.
-- Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

A hermit is one who renounces the world of fragments that he may enjoy the world wholly and without interruption.
-- Khalil Gibran, Sand and Foam

Truthfully, I am "homesick" for a land that is not mine. I am haunted by the steppes, the solitude, the everlasting snow and the great blue sky "up there"! The difficult hours, the hunger, the cold, the wind slashing my face, leaving me with enormous, bloody, swollen lips. The camp sites in the snow, sleeping in the frozen mud, none of that counted, those miseries were soon gone and we remained perpetually submerged in a silence, with only the song of  the wind in the solitude, almost bare even of plant life, the fabulous chaos of rock, vertiginous peaks and
horizons of blinding light.
--  Alexandra David-Néel [traveler and explorer of India and Tibet]

submitted by Michele

No matter what the religion, at the highest level prayer is related and emerges as a state of silence, inner silence, inner stillness. At a very high level one may believe that one is having a dialogue or directing a petition to God. Still, even this prayer is related to the tangible -- something which one can objectify. This is emphasized in the Hannya Shingyo, the Buddhist Heart Sutra: "No prayer, no you, no me ... no this, no that." It goes on until we come to "No thing. Nothing," where you can't put labels, you can't objectify. I think this view conceives of prayer as absolute emptiness, stillness.

-- William Segal, A Voice at the Borders of Silence

No need to attack the faults of others
no need to flaunt your own virtues
act when you are acknowledged
retire when you are ignored.
-- Han-shan (8th century)

Be able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of solitude, and the society of thyself.
-- Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682)

submitted by De Anna

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than to be crowded on a velvet cushion.
-- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

submitted by De Anna

I shall state silences more competently than ever a better man spangled the butterflies of vertigo.
-- Samuel Beckett

at the crescent moon
the silence
enters the heart
-- Chiyo-ni, from Woman Haiku Master by Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi

submitted by anonymous

The more than human personages of visionary experience never "do anything." ... They are content merely to exist. …To be busy is the law of our being. The law of theirs is to do nothing.  ...The Egyptian gods, the Madonnas, the bodhisattvas,  the Buddhas, ... have one characteristic in common: a profound stillness.
-- Aldous Huxley, Heaven and Hell

submitted by Bob

Whoever loves God wishes to be alone. Like newlyweds who do not want to have their intimacy interrupted by outsiders, those who have felt the love of God
retire into silence and solitude.
-- Ernesto Cardenal, Abide in Love

submitted by anonymous

Silence is the communing of the conscious soul with itself.
-- Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 12/1838

submitted by Bob

On the exoteric level the traditions are irreconcilable. On the esoteric, experiential level of the heart reigns an eloquent, reverential silence.
-- Frederick Franck, A Little Compendium On That Which Matters

submitted by anonymous

Ordinary men hate solitude. But the Master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe.
-- Tao Te Ching, 42 (Stephen Mitchell translation)

submitted by SweetMeadow

We need to find God and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees and flowers and grass - grow in silence. See the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life.
-- Mother Teresa, The Joy in Loving

submitted by anonymous

There are moments when the silence of God culminates in his creatures. In the solitude of a retreat, we are renewed by intimate meeting with Christ.
-- Brother Roger of Taizé, The Rule of Taizé

submitted by Michele

Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.
-- Francis Bacon

One of the conditions of being human, and even if we're surrounded by others, we essentially live our lives alone. Real life takes place inside us.
-- Paul Auster

Your life dwells among the causes of death
Like a lamp standing in a strong breeze.
-- Nagarjuna

Renunciation does not mean turning our back on the world. It means turning our back on the conditions that cause suffering ...
-- Jakusho Kwong, No Beginning, No End

The cultivation of justice is silence.
-- Isaiah 32.17